School leavers are opting for alternative routes to a career and are choosing not to go to University according to new research. As businesses continue to offer a wider range of apprenticeships, and students have the option to learn on the job, fewer are opting to go to University in favour of other career paths

Over 5,427 students nationwide, aged 16-17, who were taking part in the ICAEW business skills competition (BASE) regional finals, were asked if they would consider apprenticeships rather than going to university:

  • 14% plan to actually follow that path to apprenticeships or enter straight into full-time employment, whilst 19% still remain undecided
  • Whilst 67% have chosen to continue to university, down from 79% last year

ICAEW Director of Global Student Recruitment, Sharon Spice, said “It is fantastic to see that students are being open-minded about how they reach their chosen career.  We are finding that more students are asking us about ‘how they can become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant’, rather than assuming there is only one way.  The good news is there are many routes now in place, which ensures that learners of different types have access to the profession via a path that suits them.  The challenge is ensuring that all parents and teachers recognise the pros and cons of the various routes – as their opinion is often sought by the students at this stage in their education.”

“Historically, apprenticeships are always associated with blue-collar, labourer style jobs, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of the country’s biggest employers are now offering students the opportunity to start working straight from school and learn on the job. This does not only offer students experience of the working environment but also allows them to start earning a wage and frees them from any debt.”

In a separate news, the Department of Education has released latest apprenticeship figures showing a year on year drop in starts of 31% for the 2017/18 academic year to May.

Edwin Morgan, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said “Today’s apprenticeship statistics add further confirmation that the Government’s target to have three million apprenticeship starts by 2020 is sinking below the horizon. Apprenticeships have not regained momentum after the introduction of the Levy last year, with only around 316,000 starts between August 2017 and May 2018, over a hundred thousand down compared with the previous two academic years. These figures show that the levy system is still not delivering as it should for employers or apprentices. Meanwhile, a shortfall in approved standards for STEM subjects will hardly reassure companies in crucial high-skill sectors that need apprentices.”

“Firms are not against the Levy in principle. Government has been talking to businesses about where the obstacles are in the system, but it’s now time for action to get the system back on track. When skills shortages are one of the biggest issues facing the economy, there is no time to delay.”